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NHL’s 2014 Masterton Trophy: Nominees, stories, favorites to win

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Goalie Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild has MS

There’s never been a repeat Masterton winner, but Josh Harding of the Wild may be the first. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

You’ll often hear it said that the Lady Byng is the award no player wants to win, but that’s not right.

The one that almost everyone wants to avoid has always been the Bill Masterton Trophy.

As Dallas Stars nominee Rich Peverley said, “I don’t want to have attention for something that happened that isn’t good.”

Unfortunately, that’s what it has become.

On the surface, the Masterton sounds honorable enough. It’s awarded to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication,” traits to which almost everyone aspires.

But just like the Oscars tend to honor films that feature themes of tragedy, loss and misfortune, the Masterton has become a tribute to the cruelest twists and turns that fate can deal a player. Things have to go awfully wrong before you can take this hardware home.

With that in mind, here are the 29 nominees that have been announced as of Thursday afternoon, April 10 (Colorado, you’re on the clock), along with some insight into why they were nominated by their local chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and their chances of succeeding Minnesota’s Josh Harding as this year’s winner.

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  • Published On Apr 10, 2014
  • Handicapping the rookie race for the NHL’s 2014 Calder Trophy

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    Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Ligbtning

    Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson have outside shots at beating the heavy Calder favorite. (Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Now that everyone knows what position Alex Ovechkin plays (we are clear on that, aren’t we guys?), the voting for this year’s NHL awards offers few challenges. While a couple of honors are still up for grabs with less than a month to go, most are already in the bag. In fact, handicapping this year’s Calder Trophy race is about as challenging as picking the winner of the 1977 Kentucky Derby.

    When early favorite Tomas Hertl of the Sharks went down before Christmas with a season-ending knee injury, Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon stepped up and, before long, ran away with the race.

    The No. 1 pick in last June’s NHL Draft leads all freshmen in the stats that catch the eye: goals (22), assists (29), points (51), power play goals (8), game winners (5) and shots (192). Then there are the peripherals: the No. 1 pedigree; the tender age (the kid is still somehow just 18); and his part in the turnaround in Colorado.

    NIESEN: Speedy MacKinnon trying to dodge the spotlight

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  • Published On Mar 17, 2014
  • Jonathan Toews, Josh Harding NHL award favorites at 20-game mark

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    Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks

    Enjoy the season that Jonathan Toews is having. You’re watching a Hall of Famer. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    It was right around the 20-game mark last season that Sergei Bobrovsky began asserting himself as a dark horse candidate for the Vezina Trophy. The Flyers’ cast-off, newly installed as the No. 1 in Columbus, put together an impressive run that saw him allow just two goals over a four-game stretch, hinting at the fantastic finish to come.

    And Bobrovsky wasn’t alone in establishing himself early. Eventual MVP Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick in Game 17 to emerge from his early season drought. Jonathan Huberdeau earned Rookie of the Month honors on his way to capturing the Calder. P.K. Subban overcame a late start by scoring six points in his first six games to pave a path to the Norris Trophy.

    No, NHL awards aren’t won in the first quarter of the season, but players who are hitting their marks at the quarter pole create a narrative that lingers with the voters.

    With that in mind, here’s a look at the some of the players who have made a strong impression through the first 20 or so games of 2013-14, setting themselves up as the early favorites to take home the hardware next June.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2013
  • Alex Ovechkin All-Star vote snafu shows change needed for NHL awards

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    Alex Ovechkin was named an NHL All-Star at a position he didn't play this season.

    Just not right: Alex Ovechkin won honors at left wing even though he switched positions this season. (Getty Imagea)

    By Allan Muir

    A friend of mine changed his personal profile on his Twitter account this afternoon. It used to read, “Proud member of the PHWA.”

    Now, the line is blank.

    He’s probably not alone in making that kind of change. I’m guessing there aren’t too many folks bragging about being a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association today.

    It hasn’t been a very good month for the group* that, among its other duties, votes on the Hart, Calder, Norris, Selke, Lady Byng and Masterton trophies that are handed out to the NHL’s top players each season. Considering what those awards mean to a player’s legacy, it’s a hefty responsibility.

    Too bad not everyone sees it that way.

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  • Published On Jul 03, 2013
  • Minnesota’s Brodin joins Calder-winner Huberdeau on All-Rookie Team

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    Jonas Brodin

    Jonas Brodin performed well against the league’s top attackers as a young defenseman. (Brian Ekart/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    Jonas Brodin was wronged in the voting for the Calder Trophy. Flat out wronged.

    The league’s youngest defenseman, he was a steady and reliable minute-muncher for the Wild, leading all rookies in total time on ice (1,044:35) and average time on ice (23:12). You could make a pretty good argument that no first-year player came close to matching his impact. And yet Brodin somehow didn’t rank among the top-three vote getters when the ballots of the PHWA were counted. Crazy.

    Not that I’m bitter or anything.

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  • Published On Jun 29, 2013
  • Toews tops Bergeron again as NHL trumpets first batch of award winners

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    Josh Harding

    Josh Harding won the Bill Masterson trophy after playing the season with multiple sclerosis. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    The upside of abandoning the NHL’s flashy awards presentation in Las Vegas is obvious: no experiments in forced chemistry between C-list celebrities and hockey players; no disdainful hosting from Jay Mohr; and no more sequels to the wacky adventures of Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan.

    Still, this year’s hastily planned alternative won’t exactly be remembered as a triumph of marketing genius, either.

    The NHL dropped the first eight winners online and the buzz it generated nearly matched the excitement over the last Twisted Sister LP. It’s really too bad, since the league could have benefited from wider exposure afforded to these worthwhile honorees.

    The most highly anticipated award of the night went to Jonathan Toews, who edged out Patrice Bergeron (again) in the tightly contested race for the Selke Trophy. You can read Sarah Kwak’s take on it here. In my book, Bergeron deserved a repeat win — he took home the hardware last season — based on his league-leading faceoff numbers and the fact that he was on the ice for just 13 even-strength goals-against all season. Toews is right there with him on nearly all counts, but I think the voters tossed him this bone after bailing on him in the MVP balloting.

    And now, the rest of the winners:

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  • Published On Jun 14, 2013
  • Adams Award finalists: Bruce Boudreau, Paul MacLean, Joel Quenneville

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    Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators is a 2013 Jack Adams Award nominee.

    If you really think about it, there is only one sure thing in this year’s NHL awards field. (Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    Think about the levers that Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates had to pull to convince struggling superstar Alex Ovechkin to play the game his way, or how Mike Babcock guided the Detroit Red Wings into the post-Nick Lidstrom era with a rookie-laden lineup. That is a pair of remarkable coaching efforts right there, yet neither was good enough to make the cut for the Jack Adams Award, which is given to the coach who has contributed most to his team’s success. That tells you all you need to know about the quality of this year’s field.

    The NHL announced this morning that Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks, Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators, and Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks are the finalists for the Adams, as selected by the members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association. It’s pretty easy to craft an argument in support of any one of them.

    MORE NOMINEES: Hart | Norris | Vezina | Calder | Lindsay | Masterton | Selke | Byng

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  • Published On May 17, 2013
  • Patrick Kane, Matt Moulson, Martin St. Louis are Lady Byng Trophy finalists

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    Patrick Kane, Matt Moulson. Martin St. Louis are 2013 Lady Byng Trophy finalists

    Patrick Kane, Matt Moulson and Martin St. Louis are paragons of skill and sportsmanship. (Icon SMI (2) :: Getty)

    By Allan Muir

    When was the last time you heard anyone gripe about someone getting snubbed for the Lady Byng Trophy?

    Right. It never happens. Well, until today.

    Good lord, forget about winning the thing, which is awarded “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” How does the Professional Hockey Writers Association not count up enough votes for San Jose’s Logan Couture to get him a spot among the three finalists? Wait … you don’t suppose it’s that East Coast bias thing again, do you?

    OK, so Couture and his 37 points, four penalty minutes and fearless play didn’t make the cut. Fine. Instead, Chicago’s Patrick Kane, New York’s Matt Moulson and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis were adjudged to be the players who scored the most points and retaliated least often to the abuse they take least often.

    MORE NOMINEES: Hart | Norris | Vezina | Calder | Lindsay | Masterton | Selke

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  • Published On May 16, 2013
  • Selke Trophy finalists: Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Pavel Datsyuk

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    Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, and Pavel Datsyuk are 2013 Selke Trophy nominees

    Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews and Pavel Datsyuk make the Selke a highly contested award. (Icon SMI (2); Getty)

    By Allan Muir

    The league announced today that Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews are the three finalists for the 2012-13 Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”

    Nary a “knock me over with a feather” nominee in that bunch. The Selke has taken a few hits over the years as being a reputation-based award, but this trio burnished their well-established reps for two-way excellence with undeniably strong seasons.

    When the vote counts are revealed, it won’t be a surprise to learn this was the year’s most hotly contested hardware. You can’t make an argument against any of these guys.

    MORE NOMINEES: Hart | Norris | Vezina | Calder | Lindsay | Masterton

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  • Published On May 15, 2013
  • Sidney Crosby, Josh Harding, Adam McQuaid Masterton Trophy finalists

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    Minnesota's Josh Harding

    Minnesota Wild backup goaltender Josh Harding was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last fall. (Andy King/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    I’ve always thought the only honor less desirable than the Masterton Trophy was being recognized at the Academy Awards ceremony during the In Memoriam reel.

    The only way to win this one is through “perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey”… with a heavy emphasis on perseverance. Translated: Your career must have been interrupted by some personal tragedy on the scale of a Lifetime Network movie of the week to qualify.

    At least the stories of Sidney Crosby, Adam McQuaid and Josh Harding all have happy endings. The three were honored today as the finalists for this year’s award, as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

    All hockey fans know Crosby’s story: The world’s top player finally returned to the ice in full health this season after missing extensive portions of the previous two due to concussion symptoms. Performing at a level unseen in nearly two decades, Crosby was running away with the scoring title when adversity struck again. Literally. This time, he was hit in the face by a slap shot. The injury derailed his season and his Art Ross dreams, but determination to return in time for the postseason highlighted his dedication to the game.

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  • Published On May 14, 2013


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